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CNET Tech Review: Why do all the wireless routers suck?

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CNET Tech Review: Why do all the wireless routers suck?

22:20 /

The littlest MacBook Pro gets a big battery boost, the Nissan 370Z wows, and what is WRONG with wireless routers?

>>Coming up with the CNET Tech Review, the MacBook Pro 13 gets a major battery boost. The Nissan 370Z wows if you like orange suede and we've got to ask, where have all the good wireless routers gone? All that and more coming up right now. ^M00:00:15 [ Music ] ^M00:00:23 Hey everyone, I'm Molly Wood and welcome to the CNET Tech Review, the show where we run down the hottest videos of the week and tell you which are good, which are bad and we offer some sage bottom line advice. Let's start with the good. A lot of good gadgets in cars this week including one of the best monitors we've ever review. It's magic, seriously watch this. >>Hi everyone, this is Eric Franklin from CNET.com and today we're taking a first look at the Samsung SyncMaster PX2370. While still a good looking monitor the PX isn't quite as sexy looking as last years XL. The neck is made of transparent glass; however, the PX doesn't include the bluish crystals found at the bottom of the XL's neck. We did like that Samsung replaced the power button to the center of the bezel instead of the far right. The circular foot stand wobbles considerable when knocked from the sides. Like the XL the screen height isn't adjustable and there isn't a screen rotation or pivot option for portrait mode. The option to tilt the screen back 15 degrees is the only ergonomic feature included. The PX mirrors the connection options of the XL including DVI and HDMI in both analog and digital audio out connections. Aligned vertically along the back right side of the monitor, the PX's OSD array is invisible from the front. Pressing any of the buttons brings up an onscreen menu where each choice is aligned horizontally to the OSD buttons and correspond to each of them. Picture options consist of brightness, contrast and sharpness. You can also set the color temperature and change the red, green and blue values separately. There are also four presets with each preset changing the color temperature and or the brightness of the display to be appropriate to the task at hand. The PX includes a number of magical features not seen in the XL. First up is magic looks, an ambient light sensor that adjusts the displays brightness depending on the amounts of ambient light in the room. Magic eco is a power setting feature that essentially allows you to set the brightness to 100, 75 or 50 percent. Finally magic angle prevents the screen from darkening when viewed from off angles. In games we notice no signs of input lag or any streaking or ghosting during fast movement and colors look just as good as the did on the XL. In power consumption the PX would cost $7.65 per year to run compared with XL's $10.00 per year. At only $309 dollars, $9 more than the XL, the PX edges out its predecessor in value thanks to it's abundance of features and improved movie playback performance. Once again, this has been Eric Franklin, and this has been a first look at the Samsung SyncMaster PX2370. >>Okay, okay the magic thing is a little gimmicky, a little. And speaking of gimmicky you are going to love the navigation package in the Nissan 370Z Touring we got in for review this week. Yeah, it has a serious tech package. >>For a long time Nissan lost its way with the Z. I got big, disco, bloated, but all of a sudden it came home. And here it is in Touring Coupe form with an automatic transmission. Hold you judgment while we check the tech. ^M00:03:53 [ Music ] ^M00:04:00 A virginal coat of white paint belies the saucy persimmon interior on our test car. Outside it's the first Z since the first Z that knows what a Z is supposed to look like. Our car has a sport package that lays on those 19" Rays alloys and front and rear spoilers. Now inside the 370Z, no wait, down here, way down here, keep coming, keep coming Charlie, yeah, I'm sitting on the ground basically in this car. Now Brian Tallinn drives one of these but of course he fits in my hip pocket. So this is enough room for him. For the taller folks it's definitely a snug cabin but that's part of the sporting mission of this car. Now our vehicle's a Touring edition which means it has a fair amount of amenities as part of its trim level but it is not necessarily equipped with everything. One thing we do have though luckily for the first time in a Z that's been delivered to us for review is a navigation system, right here. Pretty good resolution, scrolling is a little rough, crap, they never send us one with nav so all I've got here is a sunglass ventricle. Here's our Touring entertainment system, we've got a six disc changer for Mp3, WMA and standard audio CD's of course, AM, FM obviously, no HD radio going on here. XM is your satellite radio choice, auxiliary input jack is all you've got going for iPod or other advance connectivity. Everything goes out though a Bose branded audio system of non specific wattage, eight speakers around the cabin, two of those are subs in this little space. Yeah, you'll feel it. Shifting, now you do have the ability to use these paddles but of course to use those you have to get an automatic. There's no DCT in this car, either a six speed manual or a seven speed auto. Luckily the paddles are mounted on the steering column just like on a GTR. Unluckily you've got an automatic transmission on the other end of them. But ever since this edition of Z came out, this generation nails the interior look that harkens back to the original Z. They've got the little eyebrow gages right, you've got a good looking sporting cluster, but you still have this ugly nasty little Nissan orange display on the left that's really tacky looking. Cover that up and it's a real handsome cabin. Take your hand away and gack. Speaking of gack, what the hell's with the upholstery in this thing? Orange suede? Is it 1973 in someone's sucken living room? Key party on wheels. Now all Z's except the Nismo car are powered by a 332 horsepower version of Nissan's 3.7 liter V6, 270 foot pounds of torque actually feels like more on the road, zero to 60 happens in about five and a half seconds and the mpg remains about the same as that baby seated Maxima you just drove by, 19/26. Okay, everyone groans when they hear you've got a 370Z with an automatic in for review. But I got to tell you, I've driven far worse automatics. This one's not bad. I never felt myself hating this gear box. And the proportions on this car are just right, looks like it's right and drives like it's right. You never feel that the car is bigger than it looks. What I'm struck by driving this car is it is a memo to so many makers of other sporting cars who can't get the suspension right. Either too firm because they're trying to be sporting, too wallowy and they can't support the sporting nature of their sporting cars. Just do what these guys do, it's exactly right. Okay, lets price this undeniable value in sport motoring, 370Z Touring which is fairly nicely loaded up, it's going to run you about $36,800 and that includes the automatic. Shift it yourself and you'll save $1,300 dollars. The navigation head unit is the big tech toy to go yah, or nay on. That's hard drive nav, some space for [inaudible] music and all the modern digital inputs like iPod and USB and HD radio. You want that, it's $1,850, it's not badly priced. Three thousand for the sport package, we have that, 19" Rays, performance brakes, front and rear spoilers, limited slip diff, also if we had a manual we'd have that crazy Nissan SynchroRev match make you look like you know how to shift really well technology. >>Such a cute little car. I actually like the orange personally. And speaking of cute and little, the littlest MacBook Pro gets an update and now that 13 inch model has some major battery life. That is good. >>Hi, I'm Scott Stein, Senior Associate editor of CNET.com and this is the new MacBook Pro 13 inch that just got announced in early 2010. Now we've seen the MacBook Pro 15 inch and we've seen the Core I5 and I7 processors make their way into Apple's very popular slim aluminum laptops but we've not seen that move in the 13 inch. And the reason seems to be two fold, battery life and also integrated graphics that are included in here and video GeForce G20M which is big upgrade over the 9400M processor that was in the previous 2008 and 2009 13 inch MacBook Pro. So you're getting on the low end a 2.4 gigahertz Core 2 Duo and 2.66 gigahertz Core 2 Duo in the second model for $1,199 and $1,499 respectively. The Ram's been bumped up to 4 gig in the base model, so you get 4 gig in both and you get a 250 gig hard drive in the one and 320 in the other. In addition, like I said, you get a 10 hour of reported battery life. Now we tested here and found there was a significant increase in the battery life even compared to last years 2009 MacBook Pro 13 inch which had an integrated battery which that was, had a better battery life than the previous one. So you're seeing larger gains in battery life year after year which is great. And as far as the graphics you're going to be able to play most mainstream games on it with a processor like that. Although it's not a gaming laptop, it's certainly great to have that. The resolution still remains at 1280 by 800 and the, you know, a lot of the design and look is pretty much the same as we've seen before. The slim aluminum chassis, the unibody is still the same, the large multi touch track pad. Although now, you can do an iPhone and iPad like momentum type scrolling, that inertial scrolling that allows you to scroll through documents, you know, kind of slide them through. Who knows, that might be an update in other MacBooks as well. You got a backlit keyboard and, you know, if you've been following Apple MacBooks you know about all that. And one more thing and this is a small thing but it could be big if you watch Hulu or videos on a TV screen connected to it, you may know that it's a little bit difficult with MacBook Pro's. In the past you have to connect a mini display port adapter to HDMI and you also have to plug in an audio cable in addition to the 3.5 millimeter jack so it's a little bit of a jerry rig process. Well now, HDMI audio and video can be outputted directly through mini display port. Bottom line, you can buy a little mini display port HDMI cable which costs about $30, $40 bucks most of the time and then output that to your TV so you get it all in one cable. The mag safe connector on the new models is actually a streamlined side connecting one which juts out a little bit less, plugs in right into the side, it's like the working ones you've seen on the MacBook Air. The advantage here is that it won't be jutting out as much and it actually won't pull out as much because it's pulling off the side as opposed to sticking straight out when it can become easily disconnected. Bottom line, it's a nice upgrade, it's not as dramatic as the 15 and 17 inch MacBook Pros but for the battery life gains and for the increased graphics it's certainly better than what we had before at the same price. I'm Scott Stein and this is the new 13 inch MacBook Pro from Spring 2010. >>See I think most of us would take battery life over hard core gaming in small little laptop anyway. It's perfect now. All right let's take a quick break and when we get back, what is the problem with wireless routers? ^M00:11:50 [ Music ] ^M00:11:55 >>What's up, Brian Tong here and if you want the scoop for all the good and bad inside the Apple world then the only thing you should be watching is CNET Applebyte. I'll give you the latest news, rumors, tips, apps of the week and even call out the bad apples. So watch it all at CNET.com/applebyte and I'll see you there. >>Welcome back everyone. You are just in time for The Bad. After this weeks collection of reviews I had to wonder, what is going on with routers? First we had this Belkin with terrible software and gimmicky so called apps. And then this guy from [inaudible] which is just like an abject failure. Here's Dong Ngo with more. >>You know, play means something that's coming soon be taken seriously. I have something here that's playful and to the max. Hello, my name Dong Ngo and this is Play Max wireless router from Belkin. This is a top model of Belkin's new line of routers that came out just recently. It comes with almost everything you would expect from a high end Linux router. True [inaudible] band, you get big Ethernet, guest networking and not a one, but two USB ports to host printers or storage devices. You can find this port here on the back of the router, together with routers four lan ports and one wired port. The lan ports are for wired connections and the wired port it to connect to the Internet via for example a broadband modem. The router comes in a compact with all its antennae hidden inside the chassis. It's designed to work in a vertical position and comes with a detachable base. Unlike other routers it has no indicator lights except for the power status on the front. Also on the front you can find the wi-fi protector set up or WPS button. This button started [inaudible] when other WPS [inaudible] devices can enter the wireless network. The Play Max is rather confusing to set up. The set up software asks you to enter the D4 wireless networks name or SSID and password which are provided on a sticker attached to the router. This is rather strange because generally the initial set up process is one, it creates a network, not log into an existing one. We also found the set up software is somewhat of a gimmick as all of its advanced functions are just linked to those sections of routers Web interface. You actually save time to skip the set up software completely and use the routers Web interface instead. The router comes with many little features that Belkin calls apps. Unfortunately most of these apps are just window dressing for common features that are found in many other routers. Most routers with an USB port [INAUDIBLE] review can work as a print server or host network storage independently without any software running on a computer. Other than that, the routers are for fast wireless performance and it also has a very long range. To find out if it's worth the $130 dollars [inaudible] price, check out the in-depth review at CNET.com. My name is Dong Ngo and this has been the first look at the Play Max router from Belkin. Once in while there's a product that promises a lot and then lets you down big time. I have here an example. Hello, my name is Dong Ngo and this the Zyxel X-550NH wireless router. Just from the look you can guess that this is supposed to be a big deal. First off it's big, literally. The X-550NH is one of the biggest wireless routers we've seen and secondly it comes with a set of high gain extra antennae which is also big. To use it first you have to remove the regular ones. The high gain antennae comes with three long wires. They are made this way so that they can be put far from the router to a location that's supposedly best for the signal. It also means however, there are going to be a lot of wires running all over the place. On the back, besides the antennae's port, the router has four gigabyte lan for wire connections and one one port to connect to a broadband modem. There's also a wi-fi protective setup or WPS button. It will be a better design if this button were put on the front of the router because it's used often when you want to connect a WPS [inaudible] device to the network. We actually don't mind the routers design and its bulky side too much. What is more disappointing is the router's performance. In our testing it was by a large margin among the slowest wireless end router we tested. The worst part is the router's signal stability. The router's would reset rather frequently making it impossible for us to recommend it as a wireless router. The only thing good about its signal is the range which is really long. Other than that the X-550NH offers vpn and good sense of network features. For the price of around $140 dollars however, there are many alternatives on the market that can easily outperform the X-550NH. For more information on how the router is not worth the investment, check out the in-depth review on CNET.com. My name is Dong Ngo and this has been the first look at the X-550NH wireless router from Zyxel. >>Wow, I feel kind of bad for those Zyxel folks but Dong doesn't lie. And neither does Justin Yu who took a look at a set of desktop speakers that are supposed to simulate surround sound but, ah, just check it out. >>Hi, I'm Justin Yu, Associate Editor for CNET.com with a first look at the Logitech Z520 speaker system. This two piece set is the flagship product of the Logitech's 2009 offering and the first to include what they call 360 degrees sound. Behind each removable front panel you'll find a two inch dome driver and a small subwoofer for base but flip it around and there's an additional speaker on the back that projects sound in all directions. It's a simple measure but this feature combined with an upward angle of these speakers is supposed to simulate a budget version of surround sound. Now the problem is that at the time of this review these things cost $130 dollars which is a hard pill to swallow for a system that does not include a subwoofer, treble or bass controls or RCA inputs. The sound quality is crisp and rich on the highs but they're certainly not going to power a house party. If you can find the Z520's online at a discount, you'll certainly be satisfied with their sound. But head to head we actually prefer the $100 dollar Logitech Z523's that include a four inch sub for extra bass. You can read a detailed review on that set and this one a CNET.com. So that's my time. I'm Justin Yu and that sounds pretty good to me. >>Yeah, sorry guys. But that's what we're here for to keep you from spending too much money on the wrong gadget. And speaking of our good advice it's time for, The Bottom Line. >>Apple somewhat unexpectedly allowed the Opera mini browser onto the iPhone and so you know what that means, prizefight or at least, speed test. Should you use Opera mini or the iPhone's built in Safari browser. Brian Tong breaks it down. >>What's up prizefight fans, Brian Tong here and we have two phones in front of me. You guys have been asking for an Opera mini browser versus Safari speed test so we're going to give it to you. On my right side which would be your left, we have Safari on a iPhone 3GS, on the other side we have Opera mini on an iPhone 3GS. Now the first Website we're going to test is the full version of CNET.com, so lets just get to it. In three, two, one, go. And Safari's showing progress early, it's jumping out, now it's Opera, looks like it's going to be pretty close. Looks like Safari's done and Opera just finished. The clocks please. >>Brian. >>Thank you very much Ariel. >>Sure, no problem. >>Thank you, got it, yes, okay. Looks like Safari comes in a 8.75 seconds and Opera comes in at 10.06 seconds. Now if you just look at these Websites really quickly, Opera did load a tad bit faster but also it didn't render the page correctly, it didn't fill it out to the full screen whereas Safari filled it all the way out. Now I'm a little surprised at this outcome because Opera compresses data on their servers, then delivers it to the phone so it's supposed to be faster. It wasn't here and Safari takes round one. Round two we're going to face off the New York full version of the Website. So let's just jump in this again. In three, two, one, go. I see here the progress bar on Safari shows that it has the lead. Opera is loading now. There's kind of a pause, oh Opera's done and you can see I'm navigating the site, and then, now Safari's done. The time clocks please. Thank you for doing it the right way. All right, here we go. We have Opera here finished at 10.84 seconds, Safari wrapped up in 14.58 seconds. So we're talking about around a four second difference. Now if you look at these Web pages both of the phones rendered them exactly alike, there were no errors. So we're going to give round two to Opera and let's jump into the third round. The site that we're going to test out is the full version of the Wall Street Journal. So let's jump into it. On three, two, one, go. We show Safari kind of taking a quick lead at least the progress bar. Opera's coming in now and Safari's still moving. They're gaining, Opera's done, see all of a sudden it jumps like that. Safari's still working it through. Still going. I can move around with the Opera site and now Safari's done. But that wasn't even close. Let's get our timer guy in here. Thank you very much. So we have Opera here at 12.32 and we have Safari coming in at 22.75. Now that's about a 10 and a half second difference. So in round three, Opera takes out Safari and we know this isn't really the most scientific test. We're running it on wi-fi in our own building but overall Opera takes this prizefight two rounds to one and is your speed test prizefight champ. I'm Brian Tong, thanks for watching and we'll catch you guys next time on another Prize Fight. ^M00:21:50 [ Music ] ^M00:21:58 >>Those two are so cute aren't they? And as for The Bottom Line, I think it's clear, Opera hates CNET. And that's our show for this week everyone. As always you can find more great videos like these at CNETTV.com. See you next time and thank you for watching. ^M00:22:13 [ Music ] ^M00:22:19

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